|I live alone. I had plans to hang out indoors with a friend who also lives alone over the winter, once a week. My circumstances and options changed, and I asked her if we could hang out indoors every other week so I could combine households with another friend part time. Friend one has not responded well. I admit that my ask was selfishly motivated, and she has every right to be unhappy with me, but have I been as truly awful as she says I am? How should I handle this moving forward?
I live alone and have have two close friends. One (1) lives on her own, works with people in person in a medical setting, and has a boyfriend that she see indoors and unmasked about once a month. Her boyfriend works from home, but has decided that the one COVID risk he's willing to take is going to an outdoor bar weekly with some friends, which is not something I'm super comfortable with. The other friend (2) lives with her retired parents, is currently unemployed because of COVID, and doesn't socialize with anyone else indoors and unmasked except her parents.
Up until now I've been hanging out with both friends outdoors and either distanced or masked. Over the summer, (1) and I had made plans that once it got too cold out, we would take our weekly dinners indoors, specifically on the day after she got her weekly COVID test, when her work gets her test results, so that there was the highest possible chance that if she had COVID, we'd know. Not a perfect system, since her work operates on an "assume you're negative unless you get a phone call" basis for these results and might not actually call until the next day if the test results arrived late in the day, but I was willing to take on the risk, because we're good friends, I care about her, and I know how much it sucks to live alone. We were also already going to skip the weeks after she has indoor time with her boyfriend since I'm not comfortable with the risk he's taking. We also have plans to do Thanksgiving together and go on a responsible vacation to the next state over in December for my birthday.
This past week, (2) offered to have me combine households with her and her family going forward. They're comfortable that my level of exposure is similar to theirs (grocery shopping on a weekly basis, occasionally ordering takeout, all socializing outdoors and either masked or distanced with one other person or very small groups. They don't work, and I work from home with 3x a week trips to work for a couple hours to deal with mail in a closed office and zero-minimal exposure to other people). Basically the agreement would be that if either side wanted to be indoors with someone outside of the household, they'd wait five days afterwards, and get a negative COVID test result before going back to hanging out indoors.
I told them about (1), about her risk factors, about my plans to see her for Thanksgiving, for the December vacation, and the plans that I'd made with her for weekly dinners indoors, and that I was not willing to entirely give up on those plans. I asked if they would be comfortable with me hanging out with her indoors every other week, and doing the agreed upon reentry into the pod afterwards. I'd basically be spending half my time with them, and half quarantineing and waiting on test results after seeing (1) which was going to be complicated, and I honestly didn't think they'd go for it, but they agreed that they'd be comfortable with that.
I then took this information to (1). Told her that I'd been invited to combine households with (2)'s family. Told her that I really wanted to take them up on the offer, but it would mean that we'd only get to hang out indoors every other week instead of every week. I told her that I would be down to either try to figure out something outdoors or do a phone call on the other weeks, with no changes to plans for Thanksgiving or the December vacation. I didn't expect this to be an easy conversation, and went into it knowing that (1) was losing out and that she wasn't going to be happy, but I also didn't quite expect the response that I got.
(1) has accused me of going back on my commitment to her, of not caring for her like a close friend should, of not giving her the same consideration she would give me, and of generally being a shitty person who is ok treating her friends as disposable. She has put a hold on any kind of socializing while she processes this new information about our friendship. This is... not the response that I was expecting from this friend, who has generally been measured and reasonable in the past, and who generally loves to talk through knotty relationship problems in-depth.
I know COVID times have been rough on everyone, so I'm trying to give her the benefit of the doubt here, and I'm also willing to admit that I am making a decision here where she loses out and that (1) has every right to be mad at me and sad about losing out on some time together indoors, which is currently at a premium. But this seems like... a lot for the kind of change that I proposed. I look at what I proposed and her response it doesn't line up. I truly wasn't trying to hurt her, just to make a decision based on changing information and situations and safety consideration, that yes, was selfishly motivated by my own wish to have in-person social contacts more often than once a week during the winter, with people who I feel I'm not stretching my risk tolerance to hang out in person with. The fact that this was selfishly motivated makes it harder to refute (1)'s claims that I'm being an awful person and going back on my word and treating her unfairly. My choice was selfish and she is losing out here. But I also... didn't think that the choice I was making was one with friendship-ending stakes. Which it now seems like this is, for her. We were already going to skip one week a month so she could see her boyfriend, so what was one more week? I was looking for a compromise, and to have a way to hang out in person with both of the important friends in my life over the winter. I worry that I may have grossly misjudged this situation and been truly shitty to (1) and royally fucked up my friendship with her. Have I been as shitty as she says? If so, how can I be better in the future, and how do I patch this up?